Toronto, Ontario, Canada – November 08, 2019 – It was a true battle of excellence as Olympic team gold medalist Ben Maher (GBR) nudged Canadian Olympic individual gold medalist Eric Lamaze (CAN) for victory in the $85,000 Big Ben International Challenge CSI 4* on Thursday night, November 7, at the Royal Horse Show CSI 4*-W, held as part of the 97th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Canadian course designer Michel Vaillancourt set a testing track that allowed the best horses and riders in the world to showcase their skills in front of a packed house in the Coca-Cola Coliseum. A total of 15 riders qualified for the jump-off, setting the stage for a battle of epic proportions.
As the 10th rider back for the jump-off, Lamaze set a blistering pace in front of the home crowd, slicing and dicing around the shortened track before galloping through the timers in 37.17 seconds. Next to challenge, Maher used Tic Tac’s huge stride to his advantage. When the clock flashed 36.75 seconds, Maher moved to the top of the leaderboard and remained there to take the win for owner Jane Clark.
“I think a lot of people didn’t like me in the stadium here this evening to beat Eric, but it’s sport; I always try my best!” said Maher, 34, who won a team gold medal as a member of the British team at the 2012 London Olympics.
“[Tic Tac] deserved this win,” continued Maher of the 16-year-old Belgian Sport Horse stallion (Clinton x Darco). “He’s been knocking at the door. He didn’t jump many shows, but he had a couple of second places, so it’s nice to win a class with importance like this this evening.”
Eric Lamaze (CAN) & Fine Lady 5
While Lamaze, 51, was forced to settle for second with Fine Lady 5 (Forsyth FRH x Drosselklang), he currently leads both the GroupBy Leading International Rider and Leading Canadian Rider standings, helped by a win in the $37,000 Jolera International Strength and Speed Challenge on Wednesday, November 6.
Third place in Thursday night’s class went to Margie Goldstein Engle (USA), 61, of the United States who stopped the jump-off clock in 37.61 seconds riding Dicas (Diarado x Cassini I), owned by Gladewinds Partners, LLC.
Podium: 3) Margie Engle (USA), 1) Ben Maher (GBR), 2) Eric Lamaze (CAN)
International show jumping competition continues at the Royal Horse Show on Friday with the $50,000 Canadian Open International Challenge, presented by 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, before the Royal Horse Show culminates in the $210,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Toronto CSI 4*-W on Saturday night, November 9.
More than 1,000 horses from around the globe are competing for $980,000 in prize money during the 10-day Royal Horse Show CSI 4*-W. VIP Platinum and Gold seating, as well as group and individual tickets, can be purchased here. All Royal Horse Show tickets include general admission to The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
For more information, visit royalfair.org/horse-show.
Funding support for The Royal has been provided by the Government of Canada, Government of Ontario, and the City of Toronto.
For full results, please click here.
Source: Press release from Jump Media for Royal Horse Show
Photos: © Ben Radvanyi Photography